Lightning over the Potala

Lightning over the Potala Palace.

Thogchags means "lightning iron" in Tibetan and these talismans of bronze and meteoric iron, some dating back to the Bronze Age, are thought to have fallen from the sky or sprung from the ground where lightning has struck. Worn around the neck or sewn onto clothing, they protect against lightning, heal the sick, repel evil and attract good fortune. They are magical relics from Tibet's ancient past. Read John Vincent Bellezza's article on thogchags and pre-Buddhist rock art here.

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1. Dragon Clasp Thogchags. Tibet, est. 18th-19th century. Brass. Lovely little thogchags of a dragon head. Beautiful patina. 1 1/2" (4 cm.)diameter, 1 1/8" (3 cm.) high. SOLD.
2. Mala Thogchags. Tibet, est. 12th-15th century. Solid bronze (li mar or red bronze). Ancient togchags, worn smooth with some kind of decoration at the top and a nice heavy feel. 2" (5 cm) high. SOLD.
3. Large Sutra Clasp. Tibet, est. 14th-15th century. Bronze. Used to close the binding of a book. With an old break along the bottom 2 1/4" (5.5 cm)wide, 2" (5 cm) high. $325.
4. Lion Amulet. Tibet, est. 12th-15th century. Bronze. In the form of a crouching lion. Ancient black bronze, one side worn away. 1 5/8" (4 cm.) long. $225.
5. Vase Thogchags. Tibet, est. 13th to 15th century. Copper or red bronze. Ancient bum pa sacred vessel. 1 1/2" (4 cm) tall. SOLD.
6. Sutra Clasp Thogchags. Tibet, 18th-19th century. Bronze. 1 3/8" (3.5 cm) wide, 1 1/2" (4 cm) high. $195.
7. Large Arrowhead Thogchags. 12th to 15th century, Tibet. Unusually large ancient bronze arrowhead thogchags. 2 1/4" (5.3 cm.) diameter. $225.
8. Snow Lion Sutra Clasp. Tibet, 17th-18th Century. Bronze. The face of the snow lion is barely visible between two vertical dorjes but it was pointed out to me several times as I wore this in Tibet. I have since seen another thogchags like this with much less wear where the snow lion is clearly visible. Wonderful patina. 1 1/2" (4 cm.) high, 1 1/2" wide. $375.
9. Lotus Clasp. Tibet, 15th-18th Century. Bronze. From a belt or an article of clothing. 1 7/8" (4.7 cm.) long, 1" wide. $175.
10. Horse Trapping. Tibet. Early Buddhist Period, 8th to 12th century. Bronze. Originally used for tying ropes and decorations onto a horse's reins. 1 3/4" (4 cm.) across. SOLD.
11. Medicine Spoon Thogchags. Tibet, 15th-18th Century. Bronze. 3 1/4" (8 cm) long. $225.
12. 12. Small Sutra Clasp Thogchags. Hundreds of years old, Tibet. Bronze. 3/4" (2 cm.) wide. $125.
13. Medicine Spoon Thogchags. Tibet, 15th - 18th Century. Bronze. 2 3/4" (7 cm.) long. SOLD.
14. Large Sutra Clasp. Tibet, 14th - 16th Century. Bronze. Resembling a fierce Bhairab face. Very worn, the top bar broken off. 2 1/4" (5.5 cm.) wide. $225.
15. Horse and Rider Thogchags. Tibet, 18-19th century. Bronze. The horse has a little pebble wedged between his front feet. 1 1/2" (4 cm) high, 1 3/4" (4.5 cm) front to back. SOLD.
16. Garuda or Khyung Thogchags. Tibet, Ancient. Bronze. One of the first pieces I collected in the Barkhor in the 1990s. Classic. 3" (8 cm) tall, 2" (5 cm) wide. SOLD.
17. Child and Ring Thogchags. Tibet, copper alloy. 1 3/4" (4.5 cm) tall, 1 1/4" diameter. Unusual. $95.
18. Antique Brass Gau with Guru Rinpoche Tsa Tsa. Mongolia, 19th Century. 7/8" (2 cm) diameter. Wonderful little copper gau with a glass front and a tsa tsa of Guru Rinpoche inside. SOLD.
19. Lotus Button Thogchags. Tibet, 18th Century. Bronze. 1 1/8" (3 cm) diameter. Decorative button with a lotus flower design. SOLD.
20. Arrowhead Thogchags. Tibet, est. 12th-15th century. Bronze. The triangular shape also leads people to think they are phurba points. 1 7/8" (4.75 cm) long. SOLD.
21. Sutra Clasp. Tibet, est. 12th-15th century. Bronze. Originally used in a monastery to bind the straps that hold the sutras, later worn as an amulet. 1 1/4" (3 cm) wide. SOLD.

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